engagement are of the utmost importance at LifeLine.
“You really have to get the right behaviors in place. It’s all
about results, first and foremost, for us,” Venn says.
Once a culture of results and accountability was in
place, the leadership team identified production ineffi-ciencies and corrected those issues, both in food and
In January 2013, LifeLine completed the sale of $25 million worth
of preferred stock as a capital
injection designed to expand its
food business. Two-thirds of the
funds raised were used to pay down
previous debt, while about $8 million will be invested in upgrading
LifeLine’s milling equipment and
The new milling equipment will
allow the company to venture into
new food categories. The current
mill can only grind certain food
products, including brewer’s grits,
snack grits and corn meal, while
the new system will allow LifeLine
to produce flaking grits, brewer’s
grits, snack meal, other meals,
cones and flours.
Venn says the milling upgrade is essential because the original mill
was optimized for ethanol production rather than food processing. “We
were handcuffing ourselves because we were limiting food production and
instead, grinding feedstock for ethanol through the biggest ethanol mill in
the world,” he says.
A team of milling experts were brought in to help LifeLine select
the new equipment. Venn says the new system will help LifeLine
improve its efficiency by using less corn, all while producing sig-
nificantly more product. The upgraded mill, set to go on-line in
November 2013, will allow the company to dramatically increase its
conversion of corn to food.
Waste Not, Want Not
LifeLine has succeeded not only because of its workers’ focus on
improving process efficiencies, but because it uses a unique model of
producing both food and fuel which results in LifeLine being a “
An aerial view of LifeLine Foods' 850,000 square-foot facility, which sits on 38 acres in St. Joseph, Mo.